It seems this entire international break has seen us talk about no one else except Hazard and Sanchez.

Is he fit? Is he injured? Will he play? Should I bring him in? Questions questions questions.

For the casuals or those who just started playing this gameweek, Hazard has suddenly shot to become one of the game’s must-haves after his masterclass performance last week. Sanchez has, throughout the past few seasons, proven his class as a stellar explosive player that could punish non-owners, especially more so this season when he is playing upfront as a striker but classed as a midfielder.

Simply put, these 2 stars have suddenly become “essentials”. With a huge chunk of our budget locked into Kun, and then Costa and Lukaku in 2nd tier, there leaves very little room for luxury splurges in midfield. Therefore, for most people, it is a question of who to pick between Hazard and Sanchez. And if you have both, and still have Kun, Costa and Lukaku, it means that you’re running a squad thinner than thread.

Anyways, back to the topic in question. The question of “essential” and how important it is to overall success in the game.

If you’re a regular in fantasy sites or blogs, the term essential is common lingo. But what does it mean really? Who qualifies to be essential?

For starters, you must be highly owned. Duh. This is one of the reasons why people would flock to you; as a defensive move and to prevent a steep drop in rankings if you perform. Players with 30% and above ownership are usually essentials, for serious players.

Next is your ability to gain hauls. An essential player is one who can be counted on to flat-track bully or rake in giant scores when the odds are in their favour. An essential player is one who is able to give you a smile that lasts from Sunday till the next gameweek when he shines.

Consistency is another factor to turn you into an essential. Not always do you have consistency especially if you’re a big-hitter, e.g. someone like Sanchez who can go quiet for many games in a row but return with double-digit scores. Consistency doesn’t mean having to return points every week but rather simply every other week would do.

The last factor, in my books, that separates the essentials from the puns or gambles would be pricing. An essential player should be ideally expensive or premium. If a player is cheap and is doing the business and highly owned, e.g. Mahrez and Alli of last season, they are no longer essential. Instead, they are “must-owns” or “don’t be an idiot and buy them quick”. An essential is different. An essential is usually someone who is expensive but you must own them for some reason or another.

So to recap, an essential must be a player who is highly owned, can return hauls, is reasonably consistent and fairly expensive to premium in price. Sanchez and Hazard ticks all these boxes. The other players approaching essential status at this point in time would be KDB, Coutinho and maybe even Mane / Firmino (due to Liverpool’s rich vein of attacking form).

With Hazard being an essential already, I moved quick last week to get him in. Bad luck struck when he went down injured in his 2nd game for Belgium. Although Martinez was quick to downplay his injury, only time will tell whether Antonio Conte will rest him in the hopes of having a fully fit Hazard for the coming weeks or risk him in a should-win game against Boro at the weekend.

As for Sanchez, my money is tied in the expensive tripartite of Costa-Kun-Lukaku. As such, there is simply no funds for him. He faces Man Utd this weekend, and Jose would be looking to keep things tight. So I am not too scared of a monster score by Alexis. However, he is someone I am aiming to bring in over the very near future. Looks like I would have to break up the happy threesome upfront and maybe sacrifice Lukaku for a cheap but prolific striker in the mould of Austin or Defoe.